Slippers and princesses go way back. After all, Cinderella's happily ever after only happened because her shoe fit. But Meghan Markle's love story isn't a Disney fairytale; she's changing the face of the British royal family. And her favorite slippers definitely aren't made of glass.
Rather, she's fond of Birdies, a woman-led company that makes "the stylish flat that's secretly a slipper." And she's been wearing them since before Prince Harry was in the picture.
"Meghan has been a big part of our story from the very beginning, quite honestly. Even before she was dating Prince Harry, she was a big fan of the brand," Birdies co-founder Bianca Gates tells Town & Country.
Early on, Gates says they sent Meghan a pair of their slippers because they felt the then-actress personified the brand's ethos.
"She was a great brand evangelist from the very beginning and embodied the brand we wanted to grow up to be so much," Gates explained to T&C, citing not only Markle's role on Suits and her classic style but also her humanitarian efforts and feminist beliefs as reasons why they wanted to introduce her to the line.
Markle was instantly a fan, and immediately started wearing the shoes and tagging Birdies in photos on social media.
Fast-forward to November of 2017, when Meghan and Harry shared their engagement with the world.
"They announced their engagement on Cyber Monday which is just unreal," Gates told T&C. "The media went wild. They started to pull all of her favorite brands, and they started talking about the slipper fit for a princess. It was a day we will never forget."
And even after becoming a Duchess, Meghan has continued to wear the brand.
"She chooses to wear us in such amazing moments in time. We really believe that she's being very thoughtful about when she shows herself wearing Birdies," Gates told T&C.
"The first time being when she announced her pregnancy walking through the redwood forest in New Zealand, and the second time being when she was in Morocco visiting an all-girls school there. Something that is very important to me personally and a very big part of the brand, as well, is women lifting women."
While Gates has yet to meet the Duchess of Sussex—"I'm waiting for the invitation," she joked to T&C—Meghan's support has helped the company to grow rapidly, as has a shift in strategy. Initially, Birdies was focused on making a slipper for entertaining, an indoor shoe which was stylish and even a little sexy, Gates explains to T&C.
But when customers kept wearing them out of the house, they brand shifted, and started making a more versatile shoe, but one that was still as comfortable as ever.
Last fall Birdies really took off. In addition to Meghan's royal endorsement, which Gates tells T&C is the kind of marketing "you cannot buy," the brand raised additional venture capital, launched a successful collaboration with interior designer Ken Fulk, and started selling at Nordstrom.
Now, they're getting into the bridal market, and just recently launched a collection specifically designed for brides and bridesmaids.
"It's just an exciting time to be a female led and all female team with someone like her supporting us," Gates tells T&C. "Seeing her wear us just gives me the reminder that what we're doing is awesome and to keep doing it."
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